Seaside Summer Concerts Canceled In Coney Island & East Flatbush, Organizers Say

(Photo via Seaside Summer Concert Series/Facebook)

Today, organizers of two decades-old free summer concert series in Coney Island and East Flatbush cut the power ahead of the 2017 season.

The Seaside Summer Concert Series in Coney Island and the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series at Wingate Field in East Flatbush won’t be holding concerts this year, organizers of the non-profit wrote on Facebook.

“After over thirty years of free concerts in the summer, the Seaside Summer Concert Series and the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series will not be presenting any shows in the 2017 season,” the message stated.

This news comes only a day after the New York Daily News reported that American Express is suing concert organizers for $36,000 in unpaid credit card fees.

It’s unclear whether the lawsuit is the cause of the series’ closure. Calls to the venue were not immediately returned on Friday, but we will continue to follow this story as it develops.

The Seaside series — long supported by former Borough President Marty Markowitz — has been running for almost 40 years, drawing stars like John Legend, Joan Jett, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, regularly attracting crowds of more than 10,000 fans.

Former Borough President Marty Markowitz at the Coney Island Amphitheater. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

The concert series has a storied past. It was long held at Asser-Levy Park but moved to West 21st Street in 2011 after controversial plans to build an amphitheater at the park’s location spurred lawsuits that enforced sound laws. In 2014, the series went on a one-year hiatus following the departure of term-limited Borough President Marty Markowitz, but re-opened the next year, hosted by Eric Adams.

Last summer, the venue found a permanent home in the newly opened Ford Amphitheater, which just barely passed building inspections to make it in time for opening night. (Note the Amphitheater is still hosting summer concerts that aren’t affiliated with the free Seaside series.)

Commenters responded to the sudden closure with sadness and nostalgia for the days when Marty Markowitz was the series’ cheerleader.

“The end of an era — these kept me coming back to Brooklyn in the summer for great music. Marty Markowitz, you are missed!” said one commenter.

Others echoed the loss for the community.

“I’ve loved those shows for years. This really does a disservice to a community who doesn’t make a lot of money and looks forward to these shows… Please think about revisiting this in 2018,” said another commenter.

We reached out to Adam’s office, which couldn’t confirm details regarding the series’ closure since it’s organized by Seaside, but did offer this response:

“I am vigorously working to identify and secure an organizer that can make free performances happen this summer in our communities,” said Boro President Eric Adams in a statement. “As I have shared in the past, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President has no control over either concert series; they have been run by independent non-profit organizations that determined the number of shows each year and who would perform in those shows.”

Updated 7/10, Comment from Council Member Mark Treyger “Ensuring that our community has access to free, quality entertainment has been a priority of mine, and, with the assistance of New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, I have already secured funding to support concerts in Coney Island this summer. However, I have no direct control over the concerts, which are produced by an independent non-profit organization. Unfortunately, as has become clear, the prior non-profit organizer of the Seaside Summer Concert Series lacks the capacity to continue putting on the free public events that were guaranteed as part of building the Ford Amphitheater. am working diligently with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Hall, EDC, and the proprietors of the Amphitheater to secure a new organizer and a sustainable model to ensure that residents have the free, live entertainment that they deserve, this summer and in summers to come.”

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  1. Let me understand this. When they were free, they were the Borough President’s concerts. Now that they are no longer free or are no longer held, the Borough President has nothing to do with these concerts because they are run by independent non-profit corporations. Typical political double talk.

  2. Marty Markowitz is not there to keep the concerts going. I did have a problem with taxpayers paying for entertainment that could be purchased without any cost to taxpayers, to those who were willing to buy full price tickets. Why should all taxpayers pay for entertainment?

  3. Mr. Markowitz was such a big shot . He’s a Vice President of NYC and Company and could not come up with the funding for these concerts?
    He had over a year to do so.We all know he was a BS artist when he was
    Brooklyn BP.
    The City Council gave million of dollars over the years to help put on the concerts. What to that ?
    I’ll tell you . It went into their own pockets when they gave themselves big raises.
    In addition Markowitz was only interested in getting his extra $ 50,000 in state pension money. Another act of Markowitz’s selfishness.
    The Amphitheater is in CM Treyger’s district , how come he couldn’t intervene to get these free concerts for his constituents and others throughout the city.
    Treyger seems to be a big shot too!
    Well I guess not.

  4. There must be more to this story besides stiffing Amex for $36k which in itself is pretty strange. But look at who is BP now and the characters around him. I’m not surprised.

  5. I loved the shows at the old Asser Levy Park. Convient, a place to spread and hear the amazing acoustics. The sole reason it was moved further into Coney Island was, as stated in the article, due to lawsuits. As more Orthodox temples rose nearby, they complained loudly about the noise affecting their services. We lost at that moment. I have a temple around the corner from me and they pushed it right up to my property line. It has 8 central AC units on the roof, loud as hell. I called DEP, 311 and CB 14 all to no avail. Aside from Markowitz’s spiel, this is what led to moving the venue further into Coney Island.

  6. Let’s keep the Community happy its too many New Yorkers that’s not broke that can’t support I believe it will happen

  7. If you go on the Ford Amphitheater’s website you will see that they have plenty going on this summer without the free concerts, which draw shady characters, namely alcoholics and crack junkies. This summer and fall, the amphitheater, will feature such acts as Chicago, Daddy Yankee, Lifehouse, Mary J. Blige and Toby Keith. The Ford Amphitheater’s user friendly website redirects one to Ticketmaster, where tickets to these and other shows can be purchased for as little as $20 dollars. Now I do not think that a ticket or two will significantly break someone’s bank account or cut into their rent money for a place to live in NYC. As for the junkies, if they can afford drugs and alcohol, then they can certainly afford to shell out $20 for a ticket to see their favorite performers.

  8. How short are people’s memories. The lawsuit had nothing to do with noise affecting synagogue services. If that was the case why wasn’t there a lawsuit 20 years earlier? The lawsuit was just an excuse to prevent the building of the Marty Markowitz “Memorial” Ampitheater that he wanted to build as a monument to himself. It succeeded. Not only did it prevent the ampitheater from being built, it also ended the free concerts. If Markowitz would just have left well enough alone we still would hav those free concerts. Now he has some cushy job funded by taxpayers where he gets to vacation all over the world as a Brooklyn ambassador and just has to make a few speeches how great Brooklyn is to get businesses to move here. How many have in the past few years because of Markowitz’s job? Probably none. Isn’t it great to be a do nothing politician? You are set for life unless you get caught doing something illegal and no friends to pull strings for you.

  9. Marty really screwed up when he tried turning asser levy park into an amphitheater. The shows stopping there had nothing to do with the synagogues. I lived a block away for years. It had to do with Marty gettin too big headed and trying to take over the park..the community didn’t want that..and the synagogues did what they had to do..suing over noise and easily winning. It was more community motivated than by the synagogues unwillingness to be right next to an amphitheatre. The concerts went on smoothly for over 20 years there. This talk of alcoholics and crack addicts is utter bullshit. Yea there might have been some people drinking but this is NY. You deal with it as there’s drinkers at any concert ..or simply move your seat if it bothers you that much. I smoked herb at the concerts from time to time but Crack? Never ever saw that there lmao Ultimately this is a big shame cause I always loved going back to my old neighborhood to catch the free concerts as did 1000s of others. There were always at least a few really good shows. Even when they moved it to the more uncomfortable and less roomy west 21st St site they continued to have really good shows..esp Aretha who was thrilled to play coney island and put on an incredible performance. I pray that the update by Mark Treyger is true cause I’d hate to see this come to an end. The few shows put on my BP Adams were lackluster at least in coney island. But even at Wingate the shows went way downhill once Marty left. He was far from perfect but he always kept us entertained for years and for free with great shows at both coney island and Wingate field. If Treyger and Melissa Viverito can pull this off and keep the shows happening they’ll be rewarded by all the happiness they’ll bring to so many people living there and those of us who love going back to the old neighborhood. There’s always gotta be chronic complainers and negative morons who look to be big downers. Give it a rest and appreciate what we had in those concerts. It seems late in the season to pull off free shows now but I sincerely hope they do! More power to Mark Treyger and the Speaker..Melissa Viverito. Please keep this great tradition going! It’s good for Brooklyn, the coney island community, businesses down there, and so much more.

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